Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls

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I’m so bad……………………. these are so bad…….

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls Hey, have I mentioned that our (ha, I say “our” like we own it or something) volcano is still huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf?Well, it is and it’s been almost 4 months since it erupted. Craziness, right? You’d think it would run out of ash but it just keeps up with it’s little stream of gray cloudiness, reminding us it’s still awake and plotting. Of course, we hardly get to see it these days because it’s nearly always covered by a bajillion rain clouds over the lake but, we haven’t forgot it’s there.

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls (8) We’ve been having fun speculating that it might go off again and trying to find out who can predict it, but I’m pretty sure it’s anyone’s guess. I mean, they didn’t know it was going to erupt in the first place. I was just being reminded of it because today is looking like it will be clear and beautiful and Calbuco is in full view.

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls (2) Okay, but speaking of things that are explosive and dangerous…….these mac balls are going to knock some socks.

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls (3) If you’ve ever thought that something I’ve made was outrageous, oh boy, were you wrong. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! These cheesy pasta bombs top them all. Talk about carb on carb sinfulness! These are basically bread, covered in creamy fat, dipped in more bread, and then fried in more fat. Who wants one!

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls (5) I had a friendly suggestion recently to make a copycat version of Cheesecake Factory’s fried mac n cheese balls and, even though it’s taken me a while because I clearly have mixed up priorities, I finally got around to doing it. Except, I made them with a twist of spice to liven things up. Are there any jalapeño popper fans in the house?

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls (6) Hey, isn’t there some scientific explanation for how spice speeds up your metabolism? And in that case doesn’t that make these like negative calorie food or something? You know, like celery, you burn more calories eating it then it contains. Uh huh, so these are totally health food, yep. If you believe that I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls (7) So, okay, maybe that’s a bit too wishful to be for real and these actually aren’t that spicy. I’d say they are perfectly balanced. All the jalapeño flavor that you could want but enough creamy goodness to cool it off and leave you with just enough spice in your mouth to guarantee you’ll go in for another bite. It’s what makes these truly dangerous and that’s why I’m not going to tell you to make these. In fact, do not make these, okay? Now you can’t say I didn’t warn you….

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls (4)

Fried Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese Balls

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Yield: 18 - 20 balls


  • 16 ounces macaroni noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeños
  • 1 1/2 cups seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying
  • extra salt


  1. Cook the macaroni noodles according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse; set aside.
  2. While water is boiling for pasta noodles make your sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Turn off heat and whisk in flour until smooth, then return to low heat and slowly whisk in milk until completely smooth with no lumps. Increase heat to medium and stir gently until it begins to thicken. Add cream cheese to pan and stir until smoothly melted in.
  3. Reduce heat to low again and add yogurt, cheddar, jalapeños, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cheddar is evenly melted in, then, when noodles are finished cooking, add them to the sauce and gently mix to coat. Remove pan from heat and cool macaroni for about 30 minutes.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight, until completely cold.(I did it overnight but if you are in a major hurry you could probably get away with putting it in the freezer for 60 to 90 minutes)
  5. Once the mac is cold, use a large scooper (or hands) to scoop out a ball, then use your hands to compress the noodles together. Dip the ball into breadcrumbs and turn to coat all sides well, then place on a plate or tray and repeat until all of your mac has been balled and breaded.
  6. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large skillet or wide pot over medium high heat until it's about 350 degrees F (180 C). Fry a few balls at a time on each side until golden brown then remove with a slotted or wire spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with an extra sprinkle of salt!
  7. (Tip: just know that at least one of your balls will probably have a mind of it's own and want to fall apart on you, but if it has been a few minutes from the time you've rolled the balls until you're frying them it helps to re-compress them right before dropping in oil. :D)

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